Gro is for Grotesque: A Review

Call me butter, I’m on a roll! That is right, a review of the next story in Colin Conway’s 509 Crime Anthology BACK ROAD BOBBY AND HIS FRIENDS. This time it’s Rob Pierce’s turn with GRO IS FOR GROTESQUE. Gro and a woman named Bobby are traveling from Tacoma to Spokane to tie off loose ends with the infamous and dying Handbrake Hardy Fry. For Bobby, it’s about the answer to an unanswerable question. For Gro, well, it’s personal.

Gro and Bobby have secrets…and trust issues. As they grind their way east, the story starts unpacking. They are interesting characters and the story leaves you wanting to know more about how they got where they are.

Fletch Goes for a Ride: A Review

Finally found time in between this and that for Eric Beetner’s installment in Colin Conway’s 509 Crime Anthology BACK ROAD BOBBY AND HIS FRIENDS. Fletcher Moore is worn out. A life time of driving and living hard has ruined his hips, made him slower than he should be, even at 72. But aching bones aren’t Fletch’s problem. The problem is a twenty-something who has come looking for the ten grand Fletch owes his boss.

This short story (and it is short) is worth reading twice. Beetner packs a big story in the careful crafted pages, sucking you in and then leading to a very unexpected ending. FLETCH GOES FOR A RIDE is absolutely worth a read…twice.

Robbing Banks with Gator Wilson: A Review

In Dave Zeltserman’s contribution to Colin Conway’s Back Road Bobby and his Friends, Jack “Gator” Wilson is living a simple life after doing time for his role in a horse track robbery. Billy Slake finds him, plying him with coffee, donuts, and an offer too good to be true.

And you know what they say about offers too good to be true.

This straightforward story is a fast, clean read. A two-character story, the play between Gator and Billy Slake rings true as anyone knows who has followed a friend into a misadventure. A solid read at three stars.

Card Shark Molly’s Last Hand: A Review

The Nikki Dolson’s Card Shark Molly’s Last Hand is the second story in Back Roads Bobby and His Friends, Colin Conway’s last edition to the 509 Crime Anthology. Molly is picking up a month’s worth of cash in one night by working as a dealer in a very private, pop-up poker game. The crowd is rough but the pot is big and Molly has plans for her share of the take. She is working the crowd as she makes the flop: a pair of eights and an ace. More money is thrown on the table. Molly flips the next card, another ace. The deadman’s hand, she realizes. And that’s went everything goes to hell.

Card Shark Molly’s Last Hand is one of those stories that slaps you in the face if you get so cocky as to assume where it is going. Nikki does a great job of dragging you through a litany of emotions – pride, fear, anger, anguish, more anger – all in twenty-one pages. It is a strong example of short story writing, made more potent by being in the hard crime genre. A 5-star review. Read this one if you are a fan of stories that keep you on the edge of your seat.

The Escape of Jimmy the Saint: A Review

The Escape of Jimmy the Saint by Frank Zafiro is the first story in Colin Conway’s BACK ROAD BOBBY AND HIS FRIENDS, a 509 Crime Anthology. Jimmy “the Saint” Sauntiago loves his 1969 Chevelle, loves to drives, loves his girlfriend…well, maybe not the last one so much. She’s pressuring him to give up his first two loves and settle down. Jimmy’s life is driving and outsmarting, outmaneuvering, and plain old out driving Deputy Shiple. That man HATES Jimmy. Then Jimmy learns Handbrake Hardy Frye, the driving legend, is making his exodus from this world (the anthology’s tie that binds). Instead of delivering his current package to his customer, Jimmy decides to take it to Handbrake, a gift befitting a legend.

This short story has all the hallmarks of a Frank Zafiro tale. The hero isn’t quite good, the story isn’t quite simple, and the ending has you reading it twice. Like all Frank’s stories, this one is for readers who prefer the gray, where life isn’t all roses and sunshine, but it’s not so bleak that there isn’t hope. Go in with an open mind, ’cause you aren’t going to guess where this one is going.

5 stars!

photo credit: American Dream Machines